Wild Camping on a Budget 2015 Part 1 – The Kit

You may remember when we set ourself a challenge a few years ago to kit someone out with wild camping kit for under £100, so we decided to see not just what that same budget would buy you four? years on but seeing as  according to the UK’s ‘elite’ it seems that we’re all in it together – yes, I also married the daughter of a Baronet and went to the UK’s top public school – so we decided to slash the budget by 20% in sympathy and aim to get the lot in for a paltry £80.

One thing’s for certain, we’re not aiming here for a mad wild camp in cold, wet conditions, but on a pretty decent spring/summer evening. However, we’re still Mud and Routes and we only test mountain kit on proper mountains! So here’s what we bought, as well as how we got on with the wild camp. We realise that some of this kit is non-standard, as in from China, but that may be the price you’ve got to pay if you’re slashing your budgets down to the bare minimum. Though it may well be a future quest to kit out in UK made stuff in the future.

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This would also be suited to kitting for a Duke Of Edinburgh award, though we think it’s rather sadistic to make those teenagers labour underneath the huge packs they often carry. Character building it may well be, but potentially putting them off the outdoors for life!

Assumptions – you’ve got all the day walking kit, and we’ll assume a good sized day pack as well. This means that we don’t have to buy a pack in the budget but does necessitate that the whole kit has to be reasonably compact.

Tent – This Yellowstone Matterhorn 1 seemed like a good bet at £21.53 at time of writing. It also weighs in at only 1200g according to the blurb. This does seem to take the budget wild camping mantle from the Gelert Solo.

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Sleeping bag – This was the difficult choice. We found some bags as cheap as £9, and they’d be fine for summer (if we get one) but with comfort ratings nearer 15°C than 5°C, gave them a miss. Weight is also an issue, as well as simply finding that information on a bargain basement bag! We did consider a couple from Coleman, who had the North Rim Sleeping bag which was warmer and cheaper (at the time!), but heavy and presumably bulkier.

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In the end, it was a Vango that caught our fancy, with the choice narrowed down to the Amazon exclusive Vango Cadair and the Wilderness 250 / 35o bags. We ruled out the Cadair, simply as there wasn’t any useful information on the Amazon website on the bag (turns out it’s 1.7kg and suitable for 2°C – according to Vango). It was decision between the Wilderness 350 and 250, with the cheaper and lighter Vango Wilderness 250 winning out – though if you think you’d want to wild camp in the spring or autumn, that extra £5 is well worth it.

Sleeping Mat – This is essential! We tried the Highlander silver mat last time round and it wasn’t worth the bulk of carrying (total waste of money in our opinion!)  It has to be an inflating mat, cheap as chips,  comfortable without being too heavy or bulky. Carrying on the outside of a pack is never an option and so the cheaper foam mats were not considered! It was a choice between a short Vango or a compact one – the Compact at 160cm, or the Short at 120cm. I’ve slept on short mats before and have no real problem with them, so went for the cheapest and lightest option which was the Vango Trek Short at £17.63.

vango sleeping mat

Cookwear – We decided to go for cooking pots only – you can always eat out of one and drink from the other. So we bought a Sea to Summit spork for £2 and a Douself (chinese) pair of anodised aluminium pots for a measly £8.87 – which provides you with a mug and a cooking pot.

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Stove – the Buyincoins generic gas stove is still one of the best buys out there – only £3.95, and we saw no need to complicate matters with a meths or even a compact Esbit stove. Gas is just simpler for a beginner on a wild camp. Meths might be simple, but does pose some risks that the beginner may not be aware of (leaking fuel, danger of grass fires in dry conditions – nearly causing the latter is why we don’t use it as much as we used to!)

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Our grand total was £79.30 – with 70p to spare, but at the last minute the Vango Wilderness 250 became unavailable from the chosen seller and upped it’s price to £25.98 and the total to £79.96! So with only 4p left (can you even buy anything with 4p these days?) we managed to find ourself under budget – and fully kitted out for a wild camp with only £80 layout. Anything else we took with us would be standard day walking kit as well as general household stuff. Of course, we’ve not counted consumables in this, and we usually take a single malt whisky along on our trips that would come in at half this budget!

So see part two to see how we got along!

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We bought ALL the kit at around 1300 on 25 May 2015 from Amazon, so the prices were correct at that time! Some of the kit has been on sale even cheaper (the tent had some reviewers stating they’d paid £20 for it), so you may save more by shopping around a bit.

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader.
Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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4 thoughts on “Wild Camping on a Budget 2015 Part 1 – The Kit”

  1. Crystal Gail

    I’m in the United States but I saw your review of a couple of items in the UK. Could you tell me if the Gelert sales good quality items? And if its a reliable company in the UK?

    1. Hi Crystal, Some of their kit’s pretty decent budget gear, but like with all budget kit it can be a bit hit and miss. I’d google up some reviews of any kit you’re interested in, and hopefully you’ll be able to find both the reviews on the shopping sites and something a bit more in-depth to help you choose. We were really impressed with the Vango budget kit on this trip, with reviews to follow.

      1. blackgirlhikes

        Thanks for the info, I did some research and many people state since being bought by Sports Direct, Gelert products are no longer good quality. Most people write not to purchase anything from Sports Direct. I liked your review and wanted to give it a try but being international I would want more positive reviews of the company. Do you know of any reputable companies/brands over there that you can recommend? You are awesome and keep leaving reviews.

        1. Hi again! If you’re looking for something that’s great value, then you can’t go far wrong with Vango. They made some iconic tents in the 70s that were ‘bomb proof’ and it seems that their current kit is both good value and high quality.

          Agree with Sports Direct. They produce the Karrimor brand, which has some great bargains, but likewise there are plenty of stinkers!

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